January 2018
Message from the Director
Happy New Year from all of us at the Justice Programs Office (JPO). As I look back on 2017, I cannot help but be proud of all that JPO, with its partners and the School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University, accomplished. I am confident that we will continue to build on these achievements in 2018.

As many of you know, I recently transitioned from a 15-year career at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to American University. As my first year at JPO wound down this fall, I reflected fondly on the path that lead me to JPO, starting with being a prosecutor in Arkansas to working on civil rights issues at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and, most recently, on the policy work I led at DOJ that has provided the basis for many of the current reforms we see now. Each job I have held has impacted my vision of justice and the frameworks I apply to implementing sustainable criminal justice policies that promote the values of fairness, human dignity, and collaboration.

Today I am the director of a center which specializes in turning criminal justice policy and research into practice. I lead JPO with Senior Associate Director Preeti Menon, a former DOJ policy advisor and criminal justice researcher, who shares my belief in the importance of communication and working with unlikely allies. We connected immediately when we met 15 years ago through our shared values and vision, have worked collaboratively together since, and are now reunited at JPO. Together we expanded JPO’s in-house capacity in 2017 by hiring six new staff members and created a communications unit, and this year we will enhance and expand our research arm.

JPO’s accomplishments in 2017 were many and varied. Some of the highlights of the year were: releasing the first-ever public opinion survey report on Americans’ Views on Public Defenders and the Right to Counsel ; hosting our first Maintaining Momentum event with the theme of Redefining the Purpose of Incarceration in the Ongoing Conversations about Criminal Justice Reform ; hosting the Right to Counsel (R2C) National Consortium’s Third Annual Meeting ; launching the National Drug Court Resource, Policy, and Evidence-Based Practice Center ; releasing a series of Research and Practice Briefs to provide state administering agencies and state and local policymakers key information about critical criminal justice issues with which they are grappling; and providing training all across the country to juvenile drug treatment court practitioners through the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Training and Technical Assistance Initiative ; providing training and technical assistance to state and local policymakers on violent crime reduction strategy development to state administering agencies through our participation in the National Public Safety Partnership . I am so proud of my team and am honored to work with such a dedicated, hardworking, and smart group of individuals.

As I look ahead to 2018, I am very pleased that American University has just named Dr. Vicky Wilkins the new dean of its School of Public Affairs (SPA). Vicky has been a tremendous partner to and administrator for this center. I can think of no one better suited to be SPA’s dean. Vicky says that “American University and SPA are uniquely positioned to address the most challenging questions in public affairs through innovation, high-impact research, partnerships, and inclusion.” I could not agree more. We share the same vision of building up JPO’s in-house expertise while continuing to work closely with faculty and collaborating with partners to further strengthen an already strong office.  

JPO could not have achieved all that it did last year without the support of our partners. I thank you for your continued friendship. I look forward to new partnerships in the year ahead. And most of all, I look forward to what we collectively will accomplish together to further improve and ensure the fair administration of justice.  

Director Kim Ball, Esq.
Justice Programs Office
American University
New Webinar from JPO's NDCRC
The extent of our country’s opioid crisis is well documented by public health research, firsthand accounts from responders, and the countless families left in its wake. How can treatment courts, criminal justice programs specifically designed to address the grips of addiction, combat the specific challenges of this health emergency?

We invite you to join JPO's National Drug Court Resource Center (NDCRC) on January 17 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time for a webinar that will examine federal and local strategies.

The webinar will cover:
  • Overview of BJA initiatives to address the opioid crisis
  • Opioid overdose prevention strategies
  • Responding to opioid overdoses
  • An examination of a successful treatment program

Learn more on the NDCRC website .
State Administering Agency Project's December Site Visits
December was a busy month for JPO’s State Administering Agency Project team. Staff conducted Violent Crime Reduction Strategy Development Intergovernmental Working Group Meeting’s in New Orleans, Louisiana and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Meeting attendees – which included representatives from local, state, and federal agencies – were provided an opportunity to share current violent crime reduction strategies and explore opportunities to leverage and coordinate state and local resources.
E ach meeting focused on that city’s Public Safety Partnership (PSP) project and how that effort could be supported and expanded to have an even larger impact on violent crime reduction in each city.

Participants at the New Orleans meeting agreed that more communication and information sharing between the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and other stakeholders and vice versa would help NOPD provide better services to community members and formerly incarcerated individuals. Additional discussion focused on increasing the variety of trainings, incorporating data analytics into everyday activities, and regular meetings between all stakeholders. Several ways to increase communication and improve coordination between agencies were discussed by participants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well. State corrections officials and the Milwaukee PSP also discussed possible initiatives related to reducing juvenile reoffending, including expansion of GPS monitoring and the targeted deterrence program.

A final meeting in Newark, New Jersey, will take place in January. Strong participation by the city’s PSP and local, state, federal agencies is expected. Be sure to tune into JPO’s February newsletter for updates from Newark!

For more information about the National Public Safety Partnership,  please visit their website.
Connect with R2C Online
As we start this new year refocused and reenergized, we ask that you help us elevate public defenders and their clients. Each and every day, public defenders work in a broken criminal justice system that places unfair constraints on them. Effective public defenders are essential to restoring justice, legitimizing court procedures, and ensuring human dignity, and we cannot forget their importance or their dedication to their clients and the criminal justice system.
Effective and sustainable change requires action by us all. This is why the Right to Counsel National (R2C) Campaign works across disciplines and party lines to achieve the cultural and structural changes needed to ensure the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is upheld. 

Defenders cannot do it alone, and we must continue to actively support our public defender family. Help us shed light on their powerful stories and the everyday challenges public defense providers face. Send us your story, tell us why you are thankful for public defenders, or join the conversation online using the #righttocounsel .

If you don’t already, please

Sign up on our website for the R2C monthly newsletter
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Let this be the year of change! Learn more on the R2C website .